Smithwick’s Irish Ale
A classic example of an Irish red ale, Smithwick’s gets its copper color from the inclusion of roasted and kilned malt. The sip progresses from sweet caramel to pronounced nuttiness before a toasted moderately dry finish.
Traditionally, Scottish ales owed their copperish color to brewers’ caramel; modern versions usually accomplish it with some roasted barley in the recipe. This 2015 GABF bronze medalist offers reserved caramel sweetness and crackerlike malts tempered by woody hop tones.
New Glarus Wisconsin Belgian Red
This sweet sipper proves that using deep-roasted malt isn’t the only way to color a beer red: Montmorency cherries (more than a pound per bottle) provide New Glarus’ signature fruit beer with a dark pink tint. Sugary cherry flavor piles intense sweetness on the tongue; tartness tugs at the sides, while the faintest stemlike bitterness balances the sip.
Ninkasi Dawn of the Red
An offshoot of American IPAs, red IPAs are hop-forward, but have a touch more malt flavor. Dawn of the Red’s caramel sweetness paves the way for a pop of fruity orange zest and firm hop bitterness.
The Lost Abbey Red Poppy Ale
An American take on a Flanders red (with fruit added), this venerable beer gets a double dose of deep crimson from its malt base plus an infusion of cherries. Bracing balsamic sourness bites hard before relenting to a complex flood of dark cherry sweetness, rounded oak, rich vanilla and faint plum.
Bear Republic Red Rocket Ale
Too malty to be a double IPA and more hoppy, boozy and rich than most ambers, Red Rocket lands in the catchall style of American strong ale. This brew’s bready malts meet pine needles and firm bitterness that persists through the swallow.
Red Brick Laughing Skull
Many beers dubbed “red ales” are actually American ambers; roasted malts account for the auburn color. This version’s toasted bread crust and moderate caramel sweetness form the sip, while earthy hop bitterness concludes it.
One of the best-known versions of a Flanders red, another style that gains its ruddy complexion from its malts, Rodenbach Session hits a perfect fruity-sour profile, like a jammy red wine. Cherry with traces of peach edge through, while light vanilla bounces along a quiet brioche bread base. A late-emerging tartness counters the sweetness before the sip softly closes.